In February in Bladen County, the groundhog is not the only one looking for a shadow.
Each year Bladen County Schools Career and Technical Education Department and Bladen County 4-H partner to bring the annual eighth-grade Job Shadow Day to life. This year’s event was held on Feb. 15 and around 112 youth qualified to participate in this annual event. Guidance counselors, teachers, and bus drivers from the middle schools serve as chaperones for some of the job sites.
To be considered, eighth-graders wrote essays about their future career and why they would like to work in that field. Each middle school in Bladen County can recommend up to twenty students based on their submissions. Then, the planning committee contacted businesses and professionals in our community to provide a couple of hours of shadowing on the job experience for the youth. We had students visiting the hospital, retail stores, large animal veterinarian, the Department of Transportation, and many others. We even offered a virtual job shadow experience the youth interested in animation and video game design by connecting with Bladen County native Ryan Grady from Raleigh, NC. One student with an interest in singing was able to record their own music with local artist Ron Warren.
The students traveled back to the N.C. Cooperative Extension office for a luncheon and presentation. This year, Tiina Mundy from Bladen Community College provided information about what not to wear to a job interview and discussed professional dress. Then, the staff of the Bladen County NC Works Career Center delivered an interactive presentation to teach the youth about soft skills needed to be successful.
Antonia Beatty, Human Resources director for Bladen County Schools, brought the welcome and words of encouragement and inspiration to kick off this year’s luncheon, which was sponsored by STAR Telephone. The planning team is very thankful to all of our local business partners and local professionals that serve as hosts to these eager eighth graders and they all agree that this year’s event was a true success! A special thank you is also given to NC Farm Bureau Federation for materials and items to help make this day complete.
If you would like additional information about this annual event and how you or your business could support future activities that enhance and engage our youth in career exploration, please contact Bridgette White of Bladen County Schools, planning committee chair at (910) 862-4136 or Stacie Kinlaw, Bladen County 4-H Agent at (910) 862-4591.
The 4-H program is the youth education program of North Carolina Cooperative Extension, based at North Carolina State and North Carolina A&T State universities. More than 232,000 young people between the ages of 5 and 19 participate in North Carolina 4-H activities each year with the help of 20,563 adult and youth volunteers.